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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Stepped Upon a Log

Blogging Tunes: Phish Portsmouth, VA 6/20/12

Back in the mid-90s, some Phish fan started this idea: "Operation Every Show" - here's a thread about it. The idea was that somehow, some way, tapers and friends of tapers would organize to make every show available to everyone.  Lots of snail mailing DATs around, tape trees, and all kinds of crazy logistics were involved.

Well, fast forward 15 years and each (new) show is now available for download within hours its completion.  I only get to see 3 shows a tour?  No problem.  I get all the shows, listen to them, in order, at my pace, and it's almost like I'm doing the tour.  If some wild moment happens, like they play Dog Log or people suck at tucking, it's all over Youtube so you can see it too.  Technology rules.

Anyhoooo, so this is going to be a good post.  Not just because of the awesome trip back East to see family and Phish, but because of the latest news from the Doctor.

I saw Dr. Damon on Thursday for my regular every-four-weeks checkup.  In addition to the usual vitals, height/weight, blood draw, count check, this visit also had my 12-month vaccines on the docket. 5 shots: all boosters for Polio, HepB, Hib,Tdap, PCV13. As I type this, the soreness in my arms has finally subsided.

Dr. Damon was extremely happy with my progress.  When looking at the various blood counts, he said something like, "these numbers are as good as they can be," and regarding the situation with my muscle constriction, joint pain, etc., he was "extremely encouraged" by the fact that the change in meds seems to have stabilized the problem.  In fact, we think we are seeing a slight improvement since last month.  Of course, I always want immediate gratification, so even though it seemed the situation was improving ever-so-slightly, I certainly wasn't jumping up-and-down.  Damon reminded me that GVHD can take years to run its course (if it does at all!) so this apparent change in direction, however slight, is absolutely huge.  I honestly can't remember the last time I saw him so happpy (not that he's usually grumpy or anything), so I guess this really is good news.

Oh, and for the first time since my initial weight loss (I went from 165lbs to about 135lbs during the first few months of this ordeal) I'm happy to report that I'm back up to 150!  I was actually 153 and the doctor's, but that doesn't really count. The real number is that first-thing-in-the-morning-naked weight, which was 151 today. :)  I'm sure a lot of you who are trying to drop pounds are sick of hearing about my triumphant weight gain -- too bad. :)

On top of all this, my energy level is definitely up.  I still haven't biked to the ferry, but I think, after a few more rides on the stationary bike at the JCC, I'll be ready.  I need to make sure my legs and lower body are strong and stretched out before I ride in traffic.  It's not about the riding -- I can do that -- it's about being able to make sudden moves, get my foot on the ground if I need to, etc.

Avid readers of this blog remember that I was pretty drained after our family trip to San Diego a couple months ago.  Well, this month, we did a much longer East Coast trip, and while the travel day home is always grueling, after one day of rest, I felt (and still feel) great.  So good, in fact, I think I'm finally going to book a trip to Dublin for work for sometime in July/August.

OK, now the fun part: some brief stories and pics of our trip. The first part of the "trip" was vacation for me:  Heather took the boys to her mom's for nine days, while I got some much needed downtime (see previous post.) After a few days of rain in Massachusetts, the summer sun arrived and the kids had a great time:

Slip and Slidin at Gramma's

Heather even took Floyd to Phish's Summer Tour fall opener in Worcester.

Inside the venue early

A week later, I took a red-eye to Philly, hopped a shuttle to Atlantic City, and checked in to the Trop -- home for the next 3 nights.  I got there early enough that they hooked me up with an early check-in.  By 9:30a Friday morning, I was in my room, and by 10a I was asleep for a much needed nap.

View of Bader Airport from my room

The plan for the next few days went as follows: 3 Phish shows in Atlantic City: Fri night = boys night; Sat/Sun = whole family. Heather and kids drove down from Mass to Atlantic City all day Friday while I hung with my best Phish buds, Scottie and Dougie Doodles.  We got in pretty early and got reasonably close for the first night.

Phish, 6/15/2012 - Atlantic City (from our vantage point)

For non-Phish fans, I'll answer the obligatory "Why do you need to go 3 nights?  Isn't it the same show?"  No, the shows are completely different.  Not a single song is repeated over a multi-night run.  Here are the setlists from the 3 nights.  It was fun to experience a show up close -- rare for me these days since we usually bring the kids.

On Saturday and Sunday, we found a great spot opposite a refreshment tent. With the tent directly behind us, we had a natural foot-traffic deterrent and a safe place to set up our kid-friendly area.

Scottie (orange shirt), Dougie, me, and Heather

Heather and me - no sun for me!

Heather and Orion (first set)

Floyd on Dougie's shoulders

Orion and me

Having Dougie, Scottie, and Mikey around was not only great for me, but a huge plus for Floyd's concert-watching experience.  Between the three of these guys, Floyd probably got an hour of shoulder-ride time:

Floyd on Mikey's shoulders for Possum

Here's a video from the same song.  Love how Floyd is singing along here, "Oh, Possum.... your end is the road!"



We took a lot more pictures and videos, but I'll spare you.  There were so many highlights of the shows, but I'll spare you that too.  If you really want to, you can read the reviews on phish.net.

Well, I'll share one thing: it seems there's a Father's Day tradition where Phish plays Brother and all of the band members kids' "jump in the Tub with their brother."  Here's a video someone posted to Youtube.  The kids start coming out at around 2:15.



Pretty cool to take your kids to a Phish show on Father's Day.

While the shows were the highlight of the trip, we also had some fun in the ocean.  The water was surprisingly warm for June.  I don't remember it that warm when I was a kid.  As usual, Orion escaped his diaper before long:

Heather and Orion on the beach in Adlannick Siddy

We spent the rest of the week in and around Philly seeing family and friends.  My brother-in-law, Matt has a sweet pad in West Chester with extra bedrooms and bathrooms, so it was a perfect place to stay.  He even let us use his jacked-up jeep all week!

Woah, wouldya look at the size of that that thing!

Here are a few pics of the rest of the trip.  Apologies to Matt, Val, Michael, and Adam.  Somehow, I don't have a single picture of you guys.

Heather pullin the kids to the Market near Matt's
Jen, me, and Eric: the three musketeers (best friends for 30 years)

Kids of the 3 musketeers 

Floyd saw he first home Phillies game

With my parents and the Knox's

Grandpop looking good at 85!

Carly and Orion (just sayin!)

Floyd, Brett, and Carly

Did we mention that Floyd flew the plane home?

Last but not least, I have set a personal goal to, along with Salesforce.com, raise $100k for the LLS in this year's Light the Night walk (October 18th, 2012).  The next blog post will have more info.

Kickin' it like Mario Balotelli,

-jg